Ness Notes: Thursday, Dec 10

by Larry Ness

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary."

CBB: No. 4 Michigan St was supposed to play at No. 18 Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge last night but the game was canceled. That leaves higher ranked teams 8-4 SU and 5-7 ATS in games between ranked opponents. Three games between ranked and unranked opponents were postponed or canceled on Wednesday but six such games were played, highlighted by No. 2 Baylor finally playing its home opener. It marked the first game for the Bears since a much-anticipated showdown against No. 1 Gonzaga was called off only 90 minutes before tipoff Saturday, and after expected home-opening opponent Nicholls State had virus issues like the Bulldogs. The "replacement" was the Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks, who beat Baylor 59-58 the last time the teams had met (in 2018) and who broke Duke's 150-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents with an 85-83 OT win last November when Duke was the nation's top-ranked team. Stephen F Austin went 28-3 last season, winning its final 15 games before the 2019-20 campaign came to a sudden stop during conference tournament week and the NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the virus. Add in a 3-0 start this season and the Lumberjacks owned an 18-game winning streak. So much for that! Baylor had not played since beating Illinois 82-69 on Dec 2. However, Baylor jumped out to a 38-22 advantage at halftime and didn't miss a beat following the intermission, as five Bears scored in double digits as Baylor cruised to an 83-52 win.

The other five ranked teams in action against unranked opponents also won making it a 6-0 sweep (4-2 ATS). Y-T-D, ranked teams are now 71-9 (.888) SU and 44-34-2 (56.4%) ATS vs unranked opponents. It's a 'light' day of action in Thursday college hoops and the lone game scheduled between ranked and unranked teams was No. 1 Gonzaga hosting Southern but it's been canceled. However, there is a matchup of ranked opponents, as No. 23 Arizona St (3-1) will host No. 24 San Diego St (4-0). The Aztecs visit Tempe having entered the AP poll for the first time this season on Monday, after opening unranked despite the fact that last season's team opened 26-0 and was 30-2 when the season was shut down for the virus. San Diego State has been ranked in the AP top-25 in 16 of the last 18 polls dating to last season. Brian Dutcher spent 18 seasons as an assistant to Steve Fisher (first at Michigan and then at San Diego St) and won 22 and 21 games in his first two seasons before last year's 30-win one. However, while he likely couldn't be "picked out of a lineup," that's NOT the case for ASU head coach Bobby Hurley, who starred for a Duke team which won back-to-back national championships (1991 and 1992) and is part of the Hurley legacy of coaches. This is Hurley's sixth season at ASU and he's led the team to an overall 93-69 (.574) record in his first five with two NCAA appearances which have produced ZERO tourney wins. The Sun Devils are favored by three points.

NFL Week 14 kicks off with Thursday Night Football from SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles when the 6-0 NE Patriots visit the 8-4 LA Rams (8;20 ET on FOX/NFL Network). The Patriots have won FOUR of their last five, including a 45-0 'spanking' over the Chargers last Sunday. That game was played SoFi Stadium and New England head coach Bill Belichick and his team celebrated that triumph by staying in Los Angeles and working out at UCLA as opposed to making a pair of cross-country flights, as the Pats are right back in SoFi Stadium on Thursday night to face the Rams. Arizona, the LA Rams and Seattle were all 6-3 and tied atop the NFC West entering Week 11 but as Week 14 dawns, the Rams and Seahawks are tied at 8-4 (Rams currently own the tiebreaker), while the Cards have fallen off the pace at 6-6.The Rams are favored by five points and the over/under is 44 1/2.

COVID has wreaked havoc on the CFB schedule and I will push my CFB preview to Friday and then do a "special" Saturday edition of Ness Notes to cover NFL Week 14.

Good luck...Larry

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